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Sharing the road with pedestrians

How to safely give way to pedestrians, mobility scooters and skateboaders on NSW roads. Know the rules around sharing the roads, and when to slow down and take extra care.

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Give way to pedestrians

As a driver, you must give way to pedestrians:

Always slow down and be prepared to stop if there’s any danger of colliding with a pedestrian, even if they do not have right of way or are jaywalking (crossing the road illegally). See the Shared Zones fact sheet (August 2012) (PDF, 3.04 MB)

Who is a pedestrian?

Pedestrians include people who are:

  • walking or running
  • pushing a bicycle
  • in a wheelchair
  • using a mobility scooter or motorised wheelchair
  • using a skateboard, foot scooter or rollerblades.

Pedestrians are vulnerable road users because they have no protection if a vehicle collides with them. As a driver, it’s your responsibility to help keep them safe.

Look out for vulnerable pedestrians

Children

Children have not developed the skills to understand and react to danger. They’re still learning where to cross safely, and they can find it hard to judge the speed and distance of vehicles. This means they can act unpredictably around traffic.

Take extra care near:

  • children playing, walking or riding bikes near the edge of the road
  • schools, particularly when children are arriving or leaving
  • school buses or school bus zones where children may be getting on or off the bus.

Older people

Older people may be slower than other pedestrians and may not see you until you’re very close. Slow down and give them extra time to cross.

People affected by alcohol or drugs

People who have been drinking or taking drugs are one of the most common groups involved in road crashes.

Alcohol and drugs slow brain functions, increase risk-taking and reduce people’s ability to judge speed and distance. This also applies to drink or drug affected pedestrians and their ability to cross the road safely.

Take extra care when driving near licensed clubs, hotels, restaurants, festivals and other events.

Slow down and take extra care

Near shopping centres and transport

Pedestrians may not be paying attention around shopping centres and transport hubs, such as bus and tram stops. Slow down and watch out for anyone that might step onto the road.

Watch out for pedestrians walking between parked vehicles or opening car doors.

In poor visibility and conditions

More than half of all pedestrian fatalities occur in darkness or at dusk.

Slow down and prepare to stop when visibility is poor, for example, in rain or fog, or at night, dawn or dusk. Pedestrians are harder to see and they’re also more likely to hurry and take risks.

When pedestrians are walking on the road

Pedestrians must use a footpath or nature strip if there’s one. If there’s not one, or it’s not practical to use, they can walk on the road as long as they:

  • walk in the direction of oncoming traffic, if practical
  • keep to the far side of the road
  • do not walk alongside more than one other person, unless overtaking.

People using mobility scooters or motorised wheelchairs can do the same.

Watch out for people using skateboards, foot scooters and rollerblades. They can use roads with speed limits up to 50km/h and no white dividing line.

When reversing

Pedestrians, particularly children, are at greater risk when vehicles are reversing. This is because the driver cannot see them as well.

Take extra care when you’re reversing, particularly when you’re entering or leaving a driveway. Only reverse for the distance that’s necessary.

Mobility scooters and motorised wheelchairs

People with a disability who cannot walk or find it difficult to walk may use mobility scooters or motorised wheelchairs. They must follow the same rules as pedestrians. To share the footpath safely with other pedestrians, the vehicles must not be able to go faster than 10km/h.

Drivers should look out for mobility scooters or motorised wheelchairs. Take particular care when entering or leaving a driveway, as they can be difficult to see and move faster than other pedestrians.

Skateboards, foot scooters and rollerblades

People who use skateboards, foot scooters and rollerblades have the same rights and responsibilities as pedestrians. They must follow the same road rules, but also have some special rules.

On footpaths, they must keep to the left and give way to other pedestrians.

On bicycle and pedestrian paths, they must use the bicycle section and keep out of the way of bicycles.

They can use the road, but only during daylight hours, if:

  • the speed limit is 50km/h or less
  • the road has no white dividing line or it’s a single-lane, one‑way street.

As a driver, you should take care when you see people using skateboards, foot scooters and rollerblades on the road. If the road is uneven or slippery, they may be unstable. Be careful when entering or leaving a driveway, as they can be difficult to see and move faster than other pedestrians.

Skateboards and scooters with a motor must only be used on private land.

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